Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Evolve: Eyes

Let's kick this off right, with rum!

Ok, ok, eagles have good eyes... We knew this...
Sparky evolution?
The comparisons used are comparing modern animals to ancient ones. Yes, they are slow, but some animals were (are) slower than others.
Trilobite eyes? Was that anomalocaris? No talk about flicker so far in insects. Good CGI, though. I hope that's not all they say about insect eyes. Pikaia!
Thanks for the definition of what a vertebrate is....

More after the fold...

That was a nice stab at ID. I approve. NOOOOOOOOO!!!! Not dinosaurs, please spend more time on insects, you know, the things that cover most of the Earth... Eyes were around long before dinosaurs, and already very well adapted.
Neat way of figuring out how wide a field of binocular vision is.
T. rex, how interesting :yawn:
Those big, sexy dinosaurs are getting boring...
Hang on, now we're talking about mammals as only being prey, but recent discoveries indicate that some mammals in the Jurassic preyed on young dinosaurs. Talk about mixing that one up... While some mammals may have been prey, it does not mean all of them were prey.
Really sweeping generalizations rather annoy me.
Bad puns... Very bad puns: "in the blink of an eye"? Come on, do something better.
Aww, what cute kitties! My girlfriend says I can have a pet Jaguar! There, it's documented.
This is one good commercial, first one, though: Evolve:Guts. This seems like a pretty good series so far, a bit childish, but pretty cool, anyway.
"Non-avian dinosaurs," I do like that touch. But now they're going to talk about color vision.

Side note: I'm more like a gorilla... So I'm hairy, who cares?
Ok, continuing--The evolution of primate eyes was pretty neat when talking about red being a cue to avoid said leaves. That was something I was not aware of.
Depth perception as a means for brachiation. Something I knew, but still neat to point out.
The show wasn't too bad, but it was way too human centered. I wish they would have talked about insect eyes far more, as well as the eyes of nautilus and pinhole eyes. They could have also talked about the pits in pit vipers. This is a form of secondary eye which I really wish they would have touched on. Good for beginners, but anyone that has taken more than two college courses in biology could probably go without seeing it.

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Aquinas' Five Proofs

I think I'm going to have some fun with the Aquinas' five ways really quickly. I hear it quite a bit, and thanks to Jon for pointing out that it really isn't used seriously by anyone familiar with logic and science. And since it is the best-albeit still poor-I'm going to have some fun with it.
The First Way: Argument from Motion
  1. Our senses prove that some things are in motion.

  2. Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.

  3. Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.

  4. Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).

  5. Therefore nothing can move itself.

  6. Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.

  7. The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.

  8. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

The Second Way: Argument from Efficient Causes

  1. We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.

  2. Nothing exists prior to itself.

  3. Therefore nothing is the efficient cause of itself.

  4. If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results.

  5. Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.

  6. The series of efficient causes cannot extend ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.

  7. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The Third Way: Argument from Possibility and Necessity (Reductio argument)

  1. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, that come into being and go out of being i.e., contingent beings.

  2. Assume that every being is a contingent being.

  3. For each contingent being, there is a time it does not exist.

  4. Therefore it is impossible for these always to exist.

  5. Therefore there could have been a time when no things existed.

  6. Therefore at that time there would have been nothing to bring the currently existing contingent beings into existence.

  7. Therefore, nothing would be in existence now.

  8. We have reached an absurd result from assuming that every being is a contingent being.

  9. Therefore not every being is a contingent being.

  10. Therefore some being exists of its own necessity, and does not receive its existence from another being, but rather causes them. This all men speak of as God.

These arguments are all regressive, he then applies an arbitrary termination of his particular notion of "god" to the end of it.Based upon what we know of the universe and time, retrocausality is possible, and since time did not begin until the existence of matter, it is possible for the void of the universe at its "end" to be the cause to it's own beginning. It is also possible for many other things I shall not get into, but alas, god isn't the only ultimate explanation, so these arguments fail. It is also a good idea here to point out that the existence of something "before" the universe, because of the lack of time "before" matter and energy, is not even approaching rational or logical.

The Fourth Way: Argument from Gradation of Being

  1. There is a gradation to be found in things: some are better or worse than others.

  2. Predications of degree require reference to the “uttermost” case (e.g., a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest).

  3. The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus.

  4. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

I love this one, this is where Anselm got his idea of "god exists because we think god exists" which only proves that the IDEA is possible, not that the being is real. It also presupposes that existence is better than nonexistence. Personally, I wouldn't consider YHWH to be the epitome of anything other than spite, wrath, and war, not "goodness." In any case, the existence of an ideal does not prove the existence of something real.

The Fifth Way: Argument from Design

  1. We see that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance.

  2. Most natural things lack knowledge.

  3. But as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer, what lacks intelligence achieves goals by being directed by something intelligence.

  4. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

I lied, I think this one is my favorite, it's so hard to chose between these two, because I hear them all the time. This is the one that the ID proponents like to use, probably without even knowing it. This argument presupposes teleological direction, were teleology even approaching correct, I think those animals living in caves didn't need to first develop eyes, then lose them, in order to not have eyes. I also do not think that we first needed most of our DNA to be from retroviruses in order to exist. What we see around

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ring species

What are ring species?
I think it's about time someone explained ring species and how it blurs pretty much every species concept. Why are ring species so difficult to categorize? For starters, distant points of sample from the group are often genetically, phenotypically, and behaviorally distinct from one another while the closer the points of sample are to one another, the less distinct the two. The group does not have to be a "ring," in fact, three of the prime examples of "ring species" do not complete the ring. These three common examples are Herring Gulls, Greenish Warblers, and salamanders of the genus Ensatina. Today, I'll only be talking about Ensatina. The paper I'll be talking about can be found here.

The researches are using ring species to gain insights into speciation. They do this by comparing the hybridization cline and hybrid deficit. The idea is that the narrower and more pronounced the cline, the less genetic flow between the two species exists reinforcing the accumulation of non-compatible alleles.

Summation of the boring part:
They looked at a mid-ring secondary contact location since primary contact locations will have had no separation in gene flow. They are, therefor, looking at how hybridized the two subspecies are. By comparing known distinguishing markers including morphological and geneological data from those at extreme points from the cline to those near the midpoint of the cline on outwards, a map of the distribution of hybrids could be made. They also used mitochondrial DNA to establish maternal lineage of each salamander and nuclear DNA for comparison purposes. These various data were then graded 0 to 1 for morphological characteristics and 0-16 for genetic characteristics. They then collapsed the data into a one dimensional transect by using a best fit. Following this, Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium was assessed.

Good part:
The cline zone between the 1981 study and the 2001 study were nearly the same indicating cline stability with narrow zones of hybridization. There are also very few F1 hybrids (less than 1%), but near cline centers, backcrossed hybrids were above 50%. There are also high levels of linkage between parental alleles indicating very little gene flow between the groups and high selection against hybrids. The low number of F1 hybrids also indicates that either the two groups rarely cross-breed or F1 hybrids are prone to much higher mortality than either parent population.

The absence of hybridization in some regions of the ring complex indicate that speciation, at least in some areas, has already been completed and these groups could easily be considered distinct species were they not in the ring complex. Evidence of frequent isolation and secondary contact between subspecies also indicates that selection plays a large role in compatibility upon secondary contact.

My comments:
We have known, for may years, that Ensatina species are highly divergent at distant points in the ring. We have also known that at many allopatric areas, subspecies frequently interbreed producing a stable zone of hybridization. The zone of this study, however, sheds new light on exactly how zones of secondary contact in partially speciated groups can behave. In this case, the zone of hybridization, being fairly narrow and very distinct indicates very little gene flow between species and strong negative selection of F1 hybrids which further reinforces the cline. Though the researchers did not directly say it, I would think that in a relatively short time, we may see complete distinction between these two groups. I would also consider this to be more incomplete peripatric speciation with secondary contact before complete speciation. In any event, Ensatina and other ring species are continuing to give us insight into the process of speciation. I wonder if the idiots at Conservapedia are going to try and discredit this paper, or if Luskin is going rant and scream about something missing, perhaps the specific genes?

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Game time!

I would encourage anyone to reply to this thread with an argument for the existence of non-physical entities (gods, your particular god, spirits, souls, etc.) Which has not been already destroyed by other philosophers, scientists, or itself. This is a challenge, as I do not think it can be done. Here are the rules:
1) it must be an argument FOR your side, not an argument AGAINST something else, the reason for this is simple, you are automatically presenting a false dichotomy, which is not a valid argument.
2) it must be clear and concise, verbosity is not permitted
3) it must not employ any other logical fallacies
4) if you present a completely flawless argument which cannot be explained by myself, a philosopher, or another scientist in 24 hours, you win.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh, Jonny boy...

Is Louisiana really as backwards as this guy thinks? It's no surprise John G. West is happy about the Louisiana Science Education Act. I mean, he is, after all, one of the senior fellows of the Discovery Institute, which has, so far, not really discovered anything. I have yet to read a scientific paper published by them which provides valid evidence of their claim that life must have been designed. I know they haven't done this because I've read EVERY PDF paper they have available. It is nothing but pseudointellectual jargon full of invalid arguments based upon faulty assumptions. So I think it's time to tear into Mr. West.

Yet in many schools today, instruction about controversial scientific issues is closer to propaganda than education. Teaching about global warming is about as nuanced as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Discussions about human sexuality recycle the junk science of biologist Alfred Kinsey and other ideologically driven researchers. And lessons about evolution present a caricature of modern evolutionary theory that papers over problems and fails to distinguish between fact and speculation.
Of course they caricature modern evolutionary theory. Your stories do, too. The reason is for simplicity. It would take YEARS of education to teach someone all the evidence for evolutionary theory. Your's, on the other hand, is caricatured much like a piñata. Hollow but for the things which taste good, but rot your teeth. In this case, it rots your understanding of biology and your brain, but it keeps with dogmatic beliefs...
In these areas, the “scientific” view is increasingly offered to students as a neat package of dogmatic assertions that just happens to parallel the political and cultural agenda of the Left.
I'm sorry, but perhaps it's time for you to revise your beliefs if the truth is offensive.
Real science, however, is a lot more messy — and interesting — than a set of ideological talking points. Most conservatives recognize this truth already when it comes to global warming.
Really, so why is it that so little is being done? And just because they acknowledge one theory is true (finally), this doesn't necessarily mean that these people are smart. What it means is that what scientists have known for years (the Earth is warming), and was denied by conservatives for years, was FINALLY accepted by them. This shows that scientists do, sometimes, know what they are talking about. Why do you think we don't know what we're talking about when it comes to evolutionary biology? Your example doesn't show that conservatives are smart, it shows that they are years behind scientific knowledge...
They know that whatever consensus exists among scientists about global warming, legitimate questions remain about its future impact on the environment, its various causes, and the best policies to combat it.
And what scientists don't agree with evolutionary biology? Is it because of some biased assumption? Is it because they have money involved in subverting the scientific community? (cough, Behe, cough)
They realize that efforts to suppress conflicting evidence and dissenting interpretations related to global warming actually compromise the cause of good science education rather than promote it.
Could they, you know, keep up with the science? They would have known global warming since the 1990s. Hell, many geologists knew about it before that. Again, you're not being completely honest, because there IS no evidence. I read every one of your papers, your "evidence" can just as easily be explained by other means without the need of a "designer."
The effort to suppress dissenting views on global warming is a part of a broader campaign to demonize any questioning of the “consensus” view on a whole range of controversial scientific issues — from embryonic stem-cell research to Darwinian evolution — and to brand such interest in healthy debate as a “war on science.”
There will never be a consensus in science, that's partially why it works so well. We are constantly improving our understanding of things. Teaching what we know is useful, teaching what we are unsure of is not useful. We KNOW animals evolve, we KNOW one of the mechanisms is natural selection, we KNOW that another mechanism is genetic drift, we KNOW DNA is a heritable material, we KNOW new traits can arise via evolution, we KNOW how these traits arise, we KNOW all animals on Earth now share a common ancestor, we KNOW lots of things and with what we know, we speculate, propose hypotheses, and test these hypotheses. With these new observations, we apply those data to modern theories to see if it refines any of our understanding. THAT is science.
The Louisiana Science Education Act offers such teachers a modest measure of protection. Under the law, school districts may permit teachers to “use supplementary textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.”
Yes, I'm sure these materials will be provided by the Discovery Institute, also...
The act is not a license for teachers to do anything they want. Instruction must be “objective,” inappropriate materials may be vetoed by the state board of education, and the law explicitly prohibits teaching religion in the name of science, stating that its provisions “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine.”
Yea, but will it be religion in the guise of pseudoscience?
Of course, that hasn’t stopped the usual suspects from denouncing the bill as a nefarious plot to sneak religion into the classroom. The good news is that the disinformation campaign proved a massive failure in Louisiana. Only three members of the state legislature voted against the measure, which attracted nearly universal support from both political parties.

I never said our legislators and governor were intelligent. Not once have I ever said that of many politicians... I doubt any of them would know "objective" aside from the definition as "main goal" when used by military leaders...
Efforts to prevent local scientists from supporting the bill also failed. At a legislative hearing in May, three college professors (two biologists and one chemist) testified in favor of the bill, specifically challenging the claim that there are no legitimate scientific criticisms of Neo-Darwinism, the modern theory of evolution that accounts for biological complexity through an undirected process of natural selection acting on random mutations.
It's the Modern Synthesis, Neo-Darwinism doesn't tell the whole picture. It also implies that Darwin had a huge play in it, implying that it is rehashed old ideas. Too bad the Modern Synthesis isn't that simple. Is that why you can't understand it, Mr. West?
Facts have implications. If it really is a “fact” that the evolution of life was an unplanned process of chance and necessity (as Neo-Darwinism asserts), then that fact has consequences for how we view life.
Well, it is true that the evolution of life was unplanned, but I would not say evolution is by chance or necessity. It is a complex interplay of plasticity, naturally occurring genetic variation, which is SELECTED for based upon evolvability (which relates to developmental plasticity). This is a straw man argument, IDiot...
In a Darwinian worldview, even God himself cannot know how evolution will turn out — which is why theistic evolutionist Kenneth Miller argues that human beings are a mere “happenstance” of evolutionary history, and that if evolution played over again it might produce thinking mollusks rather than us.
Shouldn't this give you pause? You know, that Kenneth Miller - a theist - is convinced that evolution happens? Lenski put forth a pretty cool paper recently involving evolutionary probability and what leads to it... I think Lenski put another nail in the hollow coffin of ID. Also, animals with large brains are not a teleological result of evolution. It is a result of selective pressures, if they select for larger brains, then larger brains will result.
Today, science is typically portrayed as self-correcting, but it took decades for most evolutionary biologists to disassociate themselves from the junk science of eugenics. For years, the most consistent critics of eugenics were traditionalist Roman Catholics, who were denounced by scientists for letting their religion stand in the way of scientific progress. The implication was that religious people had no right to speak out on public issues involving science.
Roman Catholics who killed millions during the crusades? The ones that helped Hitler? Those Catholics were not convinced of eugenics? They were practicing eugenics! Also, I would like to call into question what makes eugenics wrong other than our social contract? It is a subjective idea that killing humans is bad. I am actually in favor of culling humans to lower numbers, not based upon some arbitrary race, but by how useful the individual is to society, how much they can benefit society, and whether the job they do for society is useful. In other words, instead of support life-long criminals and multiple repeat offenders which are simply a detriment to society, let's study their brains, their genes, their cells, figure out what makes them tick. If it is genetic, sterilize them, if it is developmental, prevent them from raising children. If it is a combination of the two, as it seems to be with modern evidence, sterilize them anyway. Now, the part about eugenics which WAS incorrect is that differing races are somehow "inferior" or "superior" to one another. THIS was the major part which was incorrect.

That was also a justification for a bias. Instead of simply saying that some group was, in hindsight, wrong about a certain thing, you should explain WHY scientists are wrong now, which you still haven't done. You are simply saying that "hey, these people made a mistake, look, see? They're wrong again! Oh, I can't support that claim, but they are!" Even though pretty much every practicing scientist from the early 1900s is dead or at least no longer a scientist. What makes you think the current generation of scientists are equally wrong about something which HAS LOTS of evidence to support it? Quit bitching and produce evidence, this is all we ask.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

More on HIV

I came across a very funny comment here. I'll just get to the meat of the issue.

The findings state that HIV just happens to attach to the black host without any resistance; as if the disease was created just for blacks. This should now be the focal point how one race of people hit the HIV lottery.
No, it demonstrates how genes interact with diseases, it's not so much a race issue as a gene issue. It doesn't matter what your race is, it's about what allele you possess.

This needs to be further researched because I truly believe this disease is killing all of us because someone had a problem with one race.
Really, you think that the first cases of HIV, which go back as far as 1959, were caused by a person designing it? Do you also think that this supergenius geneticist at about the same time as we determined the structure of DNA? That's kind of silly...
So if it is man made which probability agrees it is than we definitely have the capability to find the cure or release the cure or whatever it takes for US ALL to no longer be at RISK!

I wish it was this simple... But even if it IS manmade, if your assumption is correct, the person that designed this virus is probably long deceased as he/she designed it before 1959, so unless he or she was less than 30 at the time of this, it is pretty much guaranteed he or she is dead.

Bottomline this disease would not be smart enough to only want to attach and thrive best through a black host; unless it was genetically engineered to do just that.
It's not "smart," it does what it does via the basic interactions of it's molecules... It wasn't designed...
By the way how is this not headline news, but 1200 people with food poisoning can outweigh the 40,000 new cases of African-American HIV victims that will die from this disease in this society.
You should study some social psychology; the 1200 people with food poisoning are near us, and it immediately puts us at risk, HIV does not, provided we modify our own behaviors to account for this virus; it is easier to avert than food poisoning. We must eat to live, we don't have to shoot heroin with contaminated needles, we don't have to have unprotected sex without medical exams and long-standing relationships, we can even have a long-standing, monogamous relationship and have children knowing full well that neither individual has this blood-born/sexually transmitted virus.
There is no way a world where promiscuity runs rapids in all societies should blacks who only make up 12% of the world's population should attribute for more than 70% of new HIV cases.
Yes, well, it originated in Africa, and while I think we should try to find a treatment, your harping about it being a conspiracy doesn't help matters, it simply confuses the issue.

Once again I'm asking whoever is reading this article and understands the magnitude of this message please forward it along. This is not just OUR scientist fight, this is OUR fight. OUR family members and OUR friends are dying from this disease and they don't care why they got it, they just want to know how to get rid of it.
And perhaps here is the issue; it cannot be cured as of yet, we are working on it...

So, before another dollar gets spent on some research that is driven towards a global cure for mans most recent plague than do me a favor and save your findings because we are still burying OUR sons and daughters, OUR brothers and sisters, OUR mothers and fathers and worst of all OUR babies and elderly are dying from this lobotomy created disease.
Lobotomy created? Do you mean laboratory? Perhaps you should modify your behavior as the rest of the world has done to cope with the means by which this disease is transmitted rather than crying about how horrible it is.

PLEASE MANKIND we don't deserve to have a weapon of mass destruction pointed directly in to all off OUR bedrooms please let's stand for something.
You are insinuating that 1) it is a weapon, which I have already explained why it was not created by humans and 2) it's so horrible for you because you can't prevent it, which I've already explained to you that you CAN.

I do not pity anyone that gets this disease if he or she has access to a computer and internet. I do, however, pity those who are uneducated in the matter or contracted the disease due to circumstances beyond their control, i.e. infected blood transfusions, rape, malevolent use of infected needles, etc.. I would also like to tell you to please shut up when it comes to HIV research, because you clearly are ignorant of thousands of bits of evidence which would enlighten you to what HIV is, how it is transmitted, and what can be done to prevent it. Were it manmade, someone very stupid designed it to be transmitted via bodily fluids instead of specifically targeting genetic markers present only in the target population and spreading rapidly by contact.
If you would like to find out what I'm doing to continue this movement please e-mail me @ francwaa1981@aol.com. I am only one man but I have several thousand people who believe in the eradication of this disease just as strongly as you and I do.
What exactly ARE you doing besides telling researchers to quit looking for a cure?

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Science Reporting

Here are some examples of why reporters discussing science need a background in the science they are reporting.
Instead of just reporting what the researchers said, as this author did, someone educated in epigenetic modifications, the individual could ask questions like "how were these samples supplied" and "from what cells were these samples taken." Epigenetic modification is useful for individual cells, just because certain genes are unmethylated or acetylated at one point in time and then later are methylated does not mean that the these genes are methylated in all cells. The only thing they demonstrated here is that certain genes which are unmethylated can later become methylated. This is something we've known for a very long time. The only thing to be taken from this article is that John Hopkins was wasting money. Now, what they didn't say was that we've known this for the better part of a decade. They also didn't explain what research paper this was put in, or will be put in, or if it was purely speculative.

This one completely misses the point that prions ARE understood far better than this article leads us to believe. The "replication" of prions isn't replication at all, it is auto-catalytic refolding of the normal protein into the other conformational state. Look up PrP or just check this out.

Here's a gem of an article lacks any evidence for the claims being investigated. It's about as useful as speculation only without giving the evidence that leads someone to speculate.

Please, people, if you're going to report on something, tell me what leads you to conclude these things, not just what the speculations or conclusions are.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Please listen to the evidence

It would seem someone from "pleaseconvinceme" finally read my letter:
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Search Engine Phrase pleaseconvinceme
Search Engine Name Google Blog Search
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IP Address (also)
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City Mission Viejo
Visit Length 6 mins 9 secs
doesn't look like they changed anything, so I'll break down their claims and explain WHY they are wrong.
How can you even begin to question something as well established as evolution?'

Well, you might be surprised to find that the ‘fact’ of evolution is really not a fact at all. Like any other notion of how we got here, it is simply another theory that needs to be fairly examined. I think that enough time has passed since Darwin first proposed the idea for us to now look at it with fresh eyes and the wisdom of years of research. Let’s see if the theory can be supported by the evidence.
Actually, animals do evolve, this has been demonstrated COUNTLESS times, but here's a really good short list of Lenski's experiments which are pretty good ad explaining why you're wrong. Also, Darwin was not the first to propose that things evolve, that was done by MANY scientists long before, Darwin provided a mechanism and the modern evolutionary synthesis is FAR from Darwin's original, now relatively uninformed, proposal.
'Isn’t the evidence overwhelming?'
Yep, it surely is, but let's see what you have to say...
That all depends on what definition of evolution you are trying to prove. If you are trying to argue that the all life here on planet earth evolved from non-living chemical elements (macroevolution), then very little has actually been demonstrated by science.
Except, you know, abiogenesis is NOT evolution, it's fundamentally different. For the second part dealing with "macroevolution," you can also look at phylogenetics research around the world which ALL SUPPORT evolution knowing what we know about genetics.
To believe in this form of evolution, one has to have an fair amount of faith; far more faith than is required to believe that a creator God is responsible for the diversity of life that we presently see.
All you demonstrated is a lack of understanding of what evolution is, you put up a straw man of your idea of what abiogenesis is (a very inaccurate one at that), called it evolution, and then proceeded to strike it down. This is neither evidence, nor valid argument.

'But aren’t you biased as a Christian?'
Let me answer this for you, "yes."

Well, I wasn’t always a Christian, and in the years that I was an atheist, I simply accepted the theory of evolution without truly investigating its claims.
Really, you were? Not a very educated one. I would go so far as to say you still aren't very educated in evolutionary biology, genetics, and natural history, but you may very well be educated in them and are just being intellectually dishonest with both yourself the public.
But for the record, as a human being, I definitely have a point of view. Please remember, however, that EVERYONE has a point of view.
Some are based upon evidence, others are based upon dogma...
No one comes to ANY question without a history and perspective.
Except, you know, you can learn the technique to rid yourself of bias when it is necessary. It is a very useful tool.
The real issue is: does my point of view prevent me from fairly examining the evidence?
My question is, what evidence, you haven't presented any yet. This reads like a work of post-modern literature, both verbose and empty.
Let’s simply do our best to lay out the evidence and you be the judge about what it happens to say about the ‘fact’ of evolution…
Very well, let's do so, but the only evidence you present is your personal incredulity. This does not make for a very good argument.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

HIV-1 and DARC

I think I'm going to put up something a little more scientific this time, so if you haven't read Abbie's posts on gag, pol, and env, you should do so, even thought it won't make any difference for this post, it's just good reading on retroviruses in general. You should also check out the BBC's article on DARC and HIV-1. Once you've done that, I'm going to get to the science of why DARC plays a role in HIV-1 infection and progression.

So far, we know:
HIV-1 can bind to DARC on red blood cells (RBCs)
RBCs can act as a reservoir for HIV-1 if they express DARC
What this means is that HIV-1, in individuals lacking DARC, is capable of binding far fewer targets than in individuals with DARC expressed on RBCs.
This means that HIV-1 binds to CD4+ T cells far easier when DARC is not present, allowing infection to begin far faster.
This also means that it is much easier to acquire HIV-1

Now, if DARC is present, HIV-1 will bind to RBCs instead of CD4+ T cells slowing infection rate and possibly preventing it in low level innoculations due to the limited viability of HIV-1. If the virus is successfully prevented for a period of time, I would suspect viability would decrease further from room temperature when at body temperature making extremely low titers of virus far less likely to lead to infection.

My next virus-related topic will be something like "why are retroviruses so damn hard to get rid of"

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Better than creationism!

Oh damn, I came across an awesome webpage with people that can't even touch the creationists. If anyone wants to roll around on the floor laughing hysterically.

Read, enjoy, don't hurt yourself...

Here it is.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Well, the state of Louisiana has let me down once again, so, let's break down this little "act" recently passed
To enact R.S. 17:285.1, relative to curriculum and instruction; to provide relative to the teaching of scientific subjects in public elementary and secondary schools; to
promote students' critical thinking skills and open discussion of scientific theories;
Fine, but why target only biology? Why not ask them to probe into the theory of gravity? Why not ask them to "challenge" germ theory? Why not ask them to challenge all those other theories? Oh, that's right, because this one is "controversial" in the eyes of the public... I forgot.
And another thing, this "teach the controversy" removes attention from the REAL problems with evolutionary biology, namely the problems with phylogenies of bacteria and archae.

to provide relative to support and guidance for teachers; to provide relative to textbooks and instructional materials; to provide for rules and regulations; to provide for effectiveness; and to provide for related matters.
In other words, to give them help putting forth ANY ideas they see fit to put into the classroom. It even goes so far as to "provide for related matters." Will they make a trip to the creation museum on tax dollars?
Science education; development of critical thinking skills
A. This Section shall be known and may be cited as the "Louisiana
Science Education Act."
This could also be known as the "anti-science non-education act." While it is worded in such a way that would appear to be beneficial, it gives open license to many things, namely creationism under the guise of "intelligent design." Also, it's been brought to my attention that the weasels at the Discovery Institute helped write the bill.
B.(1) The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon request of a city, parish, or other local public school board, shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.
1) Evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning... Got that? The first one is among the most complex scientific principles we know of, and they want high school students to be capable of being critical of it? Are they going to get them to that level of education in one or two years? I fail to see how two courses in biology can get anyone to the level of biological understanding necessary to be able to come close to criticizing evolutionary theory. I would actually take about four semesters of college education DEVOTED to evolutionary biology, genetics to get to that point, and they want to do this in one or two semesters of high school education? You've got to be kidding me.
2) Origins of life, this is another one where it would require at least that genetics background along with biochemistry and a solid background in ribozymes and the various hypotheses involved. I emphasize "hypotheses" because that's what they are. These are not theories as is stated.
3) Global warming is also not a theory, it is an observation. The causes of global warming are theories. These include greenhouse gas, solar variation, and geocycle theories.
4) Human cloning is a theory? It happens all the time naturally, anyone familiar with identical twins? What would make this form of cloning different from twins?
(2) Such assistance shall include support and guidance for teachers regarding effective ways to help students understand, analyze, critique, and objectively review scientific theories being studied, including those enumerated in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection.
But I already pointed out that these aren't all theories, not to mention those you did mention are would require far more time and education than anyone would be willing to put children through in high school.
A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, parish, or other local public school board unless otherwise prohibited by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
What textbooks? Can they pick up Ernst Mayr's "This is Biology: The Science of the Living World" or Mark Ridley's "Evolution" or Matt Ridley's "Nature via Nurture"? Or will it be what I suspect, some propaganda by the Discovery Institute or other IDiots?
D. This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.
I suppose that means it should be purely objective and use peer-reviewed information.
E. The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and each city, parish, or other local public school board shall adopt and promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this Section prior to the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.
So, starting in August, we're going to have intelligent design taught in classes, let's just wait for the law suits to roll in...

I do hope science teachers take this opportunity to really teach evolutionary biology, genetics, and neurobiology rather than promote be IDiocy.

Read more!


After a few dozen rounds with the XML code, I finally managed to make expandable posts. I figured with the length of some of these, it would be a good idea to set that up now, as I see many of my posts possibly being longer..

Read more!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another breakdown of logic!

Here we go, I thank a friend of mine for this one. It's even funnier than all previous ones I have encountered, so let's get down to business.
The origin of life has for several generations been a hotly contested and unnecessarily complicated issue.

What does the origin of life have to do with the theory of evolution, I've already asked this question thousands of times, yet no one seems to answer me with a decent response--EVER.

Scientists, educators and theologians staunchly stand in opposite ditches, unable to see the full picture. Their deep-seated biases have turned an inspiring subject into one filled with bitter controversy. This need not be.

So, let me get this straight, scientists (biologists in particular), educators, and theologians all have the same standing in terms of biological science? When did theologians become familiar with uracil excision from DNA? When did transposons become important in educational curriculum for grade school?

Throughout this series, the subject of evolution will be made plain. Many of its teachings will be deconstructed and the underlying assumptions exposed. You will be left with a conclusive picture about the theory of evolution. Your thinking—and understanding—about the foundation of the world will be forever changed.

Note: "made plain" is synonymous with "oversimplified for the uneducated." Also, being left with their conclusive picture of the "theory of evolution" is rather interesting considering I want people to see the evidence, THEN decide, not hear the arguments, but see the evidence. The arguments don't matter without the facts which back them up.

You have but one task as you read: Review the evidence with an open mind. Do not allow any existing bias to blind you to this crucial understanding. The implications are much greater than you probably realize.

And what evidence will you put forth, oh knower of biology?
Most scientists believe that evolution is the foundation for many disciplines of science. Biologists, geologists, archaeologists, biochemists, etc., would state that evolution is the starting point for further study.
Holy crap, Batman! What? Evolution is important for geologists? How? How is it important for archaeologists? Do you have any evidence of a geologist saying "the theory of evolution is important to the study of geology?"
Why is evolution cemented in the minds of many as fact, when it is nothing more than theory?
Because animals DO evolve, the theory of evolution is just the framework explaining how and why animals evolve. Do you see the subtle difference? One is an observation, the other is a model. So, OK, the difference is as subtle as a baseball bat to the forehead, but it is, nevertheless, there.

How did this occur?
Certain aspects of evolution may be confusing and difficult to understand. Do not be surprised! The rationale invented to support evolution is bewildering and complicated. It is tiresome and boring. Certain facts are conveniently left behind, and tedious scholarly language is used to stop most people from examining the subject in detail. Left frustrated, most assume evolution to be fact.

Actually, I find it quite refreshing, it's a good puzzle. Perhaps a bit more curiosity wouldn't hurt the incredulous. What facts, pray tell, are left behind? I am also very sorry to inform you that those that DO understand it are the ones that consider it an accurate model for explaining the observation of evolution.
This series will demystify the subject. You will know if evolution is science fact or science fiction. Convoluted and illogical theories will be simplified in a way never before presented. While some sections are technical, the more detail given, the better you will be able to see through the theory’s “smoke and mirrors.” Clear and simple logic always destroys ill-conceived suppositions.
Once evolution is dismantled, you will be left with many questions—and serious implications.
You already said this...get to the good stuff. Also, quit saying it's "illogical" without explaining WHY you think this.

Conflicting Opinions

Even a cursory review of this subject demonstrates that decades of scientific study have resulted in little more than assumption, disagreement and widespread confusion. Allow the late Colin Patterson, once the world’s foremost fossil expert, to summarize: “One morning I woke up and something had happened in the night, and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff [evolution] for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it.

Colin Patterson was trying to prop up his and Gould's punctuated equilibrium theory of evolution. Unfortunately, even punctuated equilibrium is evolution, just a slight modification of the theory.

He addressed his concerns to both the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar at the University of Chicago, saying, “Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing…that is true?” Each time, he was met with weak explanations, hypotheses and theories.

He also said that quite some time ago, we know even more now, familiar with Lenski's work? I digress, what about bacterial antibiotic resistance?
The only salient comment came during the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar, in which one participant stated, “I do know one thing—it ought not to be taught in high school.”

Who said that, and why? Also, I would like a transcript, otherwise, this is here-say. I would really like your reference for this quote. I don't doubt it happened, it probably did, but I would still like to know who said it, and what his/her qualifications were.

This led Mr. Patterson to conclude, “It does seem that the level of knowledge about evolution is remarkably shallow. We know it ought not to be taught in high school, and that’s all we know about it.”

What are the facts about the theory of evolution? What do we actually know? What is the basis for its near universal acceptance?

You will be amazed at what the scientific evidence reveals!

Yes, the level of knowledge about evolution is remarkably shallow. I agree, but the only references for this quote of his is only found on creationist websites leading me to conclude it's spread like a virus throughout the creationist community.

No matter the discipline, when one is presented with a vast swath of empirical data, sound logic must be used to interpret it. Right conclusions can only be reached when proper logic is employed. Faulty logic—often called logical fallacies—cause error, confusion and misinterpretation. Sometimes these fallacies are used by accident; other times the motives are more sinister.

Yes, they are... Let's see how many you use.

In the latter case, fallacies are meant to cause an audience to misinterpret data and reach a wrong conclusion. By creating a tangled web of confusion, the data is impossible to navigate and correct conclusions are lost.

Yep, they sure are, I like this part....

While it should not be so, science is riddled with logical fallacies. Nowhere is this more true than with the subject of evolution. The seven fallacies below are the most commonly used to explain evolution. As the evidence unfolds, try to recognize these fallacies in the evolutionist’s arguments.
I hope you provide evidence of these.

Hasty Generalization: A small sample is used to reach a broad conclusion. Suppose your local car dealership only sells red cars; a hasty generalization is to conclude that all dealerships in your country only sell red cars.
Begging the Question: Often referred to as “reasoning in a circle,” or circular logic. An assumption is used to prove a conclusion; in turn, that conclusion is used to prove the original assumption.
Misuse of Authority: Pointing to a group of experts to validate a conclusion, even if those experts disagree with each other or with the conclusion. An example would be stating that dentists prefer a certain brand of toothpaste, but never actually polling them about their preference in the first place.
Appeal to the People: Using the general public as a basis for proving a hypothesis, instead of relying on relevant evidence. Stating, “Of course, everyone accepts that as fact,” would be an example.
Argument to Future:
Stating that while a theory is not yet proven, it will be with further study and investigation.
Hypothesis Contrary to Fact:
Repeating as new a theory or hypothesis already disproven. This is akin to asserting that the earth might be flat, when evidence already demonstrates otherwise.
Chronological Snobbery: When a theory is either refuted or proven by dating “evidence” as extremely old, making it either no longer available or impossible to verify.

One theme flows throughout all fallacies: They are false! Through dishonesty and lies, a proponent attempts to deceive. People would not be surprised if such a person was a snake oil salesman or a con artist. However, it is shocking how often scientists use such deception to promote the theory of evolution as irrefutable fact.

I would like to point out you forgot "quote mining" and many others... Here's a good list.

There is an overarching law governing the entire universe. It is so intrinsic to everyday life that most apply it without knowing. It is inescapable. Everyone is impacted by it.

It is the law of cause and effect.

But what about those things that have no cause? Like radioactive decay; how about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? Not everything has a cause, get over it.

Drop a rock and it falls to the ground. The effect is the rock hitting the ground; the cause is gravity. Jump into a swimming pool on a hot day and you are refreshed. The effect is feeling refreshed; the cause is jumping into the water.

No, the cause is dropping it. Gravity is a force always acting upon it, it was in equilibrium until you let it go...

Cause and effect is so universal and proven, it carries the status of being a scientific law: causation, which states that every effect can be traced to a cause that happened before (or simultaneous to) the effect.

Except, cause and effect can go backwards in time, check out retro-causation if you really want to have your mind blown...

All effects must have causes. It is that simple.

But when does the cause happen? Which is the cause, which is the effect?

Linking cause and effect with another set of scientific laws—thermodynamics—makes the picture sharper. The word “thermodynamics” comes from the Greek words therme, meaning “heat or energy,” and dunamis, meaning “power.” It is the study of how energy is transferred, and is usually defined by three fundamental laws, on which all disciplines of science are based.

Thanks for the background on the name...I needed that. It's actually the Greek θερμη and δυναμις.

We will focus on the second law in this example (covering all in more detail later in the series). The second law states that the total entropy (unusable energy) of any isolated thermodynamic system tends to increase over time, approaching a maximum value. In laymen’s terms, it can be summarized by saying that when left alone, everything “burns” its usable energy, eventually reaching a point of no usable energy.

In an ISOLATED system; if you can find an isolated system, please show it to me...

Consider: Water is heated on a burner to the boiling point. If the stove is turned off, the water’s temperature will drop instead of rise. Water will dissipate heat until it reaches room temperature.

But the water is NOT in a closed system. The water evaporates and takes the energy with it into the atmosphere. Some of the heat is transferred from the container to the air also. Not a valid example.

Here’s another example: Connect a light bulb to a battery, and it will produce light. Over time, the battery will fully drain, and you will be left with no light and a dead battery. Instead of having two usable items, both will eventually reach a state of complete entropy—no usable energy.

But the energy left in the form of light, the energy is still present, it's just left that location in the form of light (and heat). It may have given some energy to the cones and rods in your eyes, transferred some energy to the wall and heated it slightly, or escaped into the atmosphere, or off into the universe. The energy is still there.

Left alone, energy always changes from usable to unusable.

This is closely related to the law of cause and effect. Scientific laws are immutable and complement one another.

Wait, what? No, it has to do with the conservation of energy/mass.

Combining cause and effect with the second law of thermodynamics, we reach a fascinating conclusion. Every effect has a cause and, over time, all systems have less usable energy. This means that the effect always has less usable energy than the cause. Said another way, every cause results in a lesser effect. The effect must have less energy, be less complicated, be less advanced than its cause.

Really, but because of retro-causality we could, in a few thousand years, cause the beginning of the universe... Thank you for listening...

The theory of evolution states that a more “evolved” life-form (the effect) stems from a simpler one (the cause)—in violation of both cause and effect and the second law of thermodynamics.

No, it states that organisms CHANGE, complexity has nothing to do with it, complexity is something WE attribute to an organism. It gives a means for what we see as complexity to arise. In reality, it goes both ways, "complex" organisms can become less "complex" as well.

If this is going to be the whole argument dealing with thermodynamics and evolution, I'd like to refer to this page. That pretty much takes care of everything dealing with the magic of thermodynamics, I'll skip to the next good part.

Originating as the brainchild of Charles Darwin, the definition of evolution has itself evolved into many shapes and sizes. In his book, The Origin of Species, Darwin postulated that all living creatures (and, by extension, even matter) evolved from a less complex life form or substance. His theory purports that life began by accident—blind chance—and that everything we know today is the result of happenstance. While the general scope of evolution is still contested, even among evolutionists, it can be separated into six primary disciplines: cosmic, chemical, stellar and planetary, organic, macro, and micro.

Actually, the modern evolutionary synthesis (evolution), as scientists use it, deals only with the changes of living organisms, not the origin of life. That is abiogenesis. So, we have more than one type of evolution? I always thought evolution dealt with "macro" and "micro" evolution, I hate this splitting because it makes the false idea that these two are somehow different. I'll limit my discussion to these two, as the other four are neither part of biology nor part of the theory he is attacking. They lie in the realms of cosmology, astrophysics, chemistry, and biochemistry. So I'll leave the others out, simply because they are not relevant to this discussion (red herring).

The two final disciplines, macro- and micro-evolution, are most often wrongly interchanged. They are not meant to detail the origin of living matter, but attempt to explain the innumerable variety of plants and animals. Micro-evolution states that all living organisms experience mutations and have the ability to develop genetic adaptations, within a species. Macro-evolution takes this further, stating that such adaptations and mutations will, over time, create a new species of plants or animals. Micro-evolution attempts to explain variety within a particular species, while macro-evolution attempts to prove a common link between all species, families or phyla.
It's not so much that "over time, create a new species" but more along the lines of "over generations." Because frankly, time doesn't matter, generations do... We have some DNA evidence to put forth indicating common ancestry for every species we've tested so far.

This may sound complicated—because it is! Often, evolutionists cannot even agree on where the lines start and stop. They even say that macro-evolution is just micro-evolution over extremely long periods of time.

It isn't complicated... It's really simple, the problem is our classification, I'll deal with that in a later post... "macro-evolution" is "micro-evolution" over GENERATIONS, come on, I've dealt with that already...

There is ample evidence demonstrating micro-evolution. For instance, when a virus becomes resistant to antibiotics, it is indicative of micro-evolution. Often, such evidence is used to “prove” macro-evolution, thus employing the logical fallacy of hasty generalization. (To learn more about logical fallacies, read Part One of this series.) There is absolutely no solid proof for macro-evolution—none!
Except the THOUSANDS of DNA tests done to compare relationship of species the same way we compare relationships of dogs, humans, and other individuals within a species. We use the same techniques to determine relationships of individuals as we do to determine relationships of species. It's the SAME test with very similar results, albeit more distant relationships, but still, the relationship is there.

Blurring these disciplines has led to much confusion among the general public and to heated debate among scientists.
What scientist says evolution doesn't happen? If so, what do they propose, punctuated equilibrium, as I previously stated, is still evolution, just happening quickly over shorter periods of time.

Recall the logical fallacy of begging the question. It occurs when an assumption is used to prove a conclusion; in turn, that conclusion is used to prove the original assumption. The crux of evolution is based upon this fallacy. Many aspects of evolution’s fundament are nothing more than assumptions used to explain and “prove” other hypotheses. This is not the scientific method—and not how legitimate science operates!

So, where is this "begging the question"? I can make a guess, it's the whole definition of "fittest."

Approach this subject like a scientist. As you read, remember that if any assumption can be shown to be false—or impossible to validate—any conclusions based upon it crumble to pieces.

I am...

To remove all doubt, most of the major tenets of evolution will be shown to be nothing more than assumptions. Many are so important that disproving even one causes the entire theory to collapse.

Ok, let's go...get to the point, quit fluffing your paper with unimportant sidebars.

As we cover each point, the logical fallacy evolution employs will become clear. Get ready to be amazed by the “science” used to substantiate this nearly universally believed theory.

I've been waiting to be amazed for HOURS! Let's go!

The first assumption is the gradual transition of referring to the theory as a tried, tested and proven scientific fact—in essence, assuming evolution to be true. The certainty with which such statements are made leaves most people convinced that scientists have corroborating evidence. One statement from Theodosius Dobzhansky’s book, The Biological Basis of Human Freedom, illustrates the point well: “Evolution as a historical fact was proved beyond reasonable doubt not later than in the closing decades of the nineteenth century.”
Because we have LOTS of evidence, here's a VERY short list... You're also quote mining again.

Such blind conviction among some evolutionary scientists has led most schools in North America to teach evolution as both a scientific and historical fact.

And somehow, you still haven't given ANY valid evidence to the contrary...

But not all evolutionists agree with Dobzhansky’s conclusion: “What was the ultimate origin of man?…Unfortunately, any answers which can at present be given to these questions are based on indirect evidence and thus are largely conjectural” (W. LeGros Clark, Discover, Jan. 1955, emphasis ours throughout).
That was at THAT time, 1955, it's been more than half a century, and again, you're still quote mining. When we started getting modern genetic sequencing technology, we can now make pretty damn good comparisons of evolutionary history.

Pierre-Paul Grassé, a world renowned zoologist, author of more than 300 publications, and former president of the Academie des Sciences, stated, “Their success among certain biologists, philosophers, and sociologists notwithstanding, the explanatory doctrines of biological evolution do not stand up to an objective, in-depth criticism. They prove to be either in conflict with reality or else incapable of solving the major problems involved” (The Evolution of Living Organisms, 1977).
I would also assume he lived in France, in France, lamarkism was very popular, and it's ALSO a form of evolution, it just involves multiple origins of life. Again, we have evidence to the contrary of this. And you're still quote mining appeal to authority...

While these quotes speak loudly, the purpose here is not yet to disprove evolution, only to demonstrate that it is not a tried and tested fact.

A scientific fact is defined as “an observation that has been confirmed repeatedly and is accepted as true.” From just the quotes above, we can see that observations and tests show inconsistencies, and that neither an evolutionist nor an influential zoologist accepted evolution as fact. How could evolution be considered fact when such divergent opinions exist?

So, bacteria evolve resistance to drugs, specific attributes of animals change, and a number of other FACTUAL examples of evolution. Again, look at Lenski's experiment... Also, the divergent opinions exist because some people have valid questions which needed to be addressed, and have been addressed since then.

In truth, by true scientific standards, evolution is not even a theory! A scientific theory is defined as a “theory that explains scientific observations; scientific theories must be falsifiable.”

To survive as a legitimate theory, there must be some test or tests proving it valid or else it should be discarded. Without a test, it is not a scientific theory.

Lenski did a good job of this, and many zoologists test the theory every day with genetics! So do many morphologists, physiologists, and microbiologists!

For example, a theory arising from observing an orange sunset could state that the sunset is always orange. A test then exists to prove or disprove the theory. (One could watch sunsets for a year and record their color.) This means the theory fulfills the requirements to be scientific. Of course, if a red, yellow or violet sunset is observed, the honest scientist would abandon the hypothesis and develop a new theory. The cycle would continue until a theory is proven as fact. This is the basis of the scientific method.
No, that is NOT a theory, it is a hypothesis, a prediction about a specific example, the theory would explain WHY it does it, not what it does. A theory is a model.

Does the theory of evolution meet these two conditions? Is it the result of scientific observation, and can it be put to the test? It could be argued that with no observed examples of macro-evolution on record, the theory is more based on faith, hope and belief than scientific observation. Further, nearly all evolutionists purport that most major evolutionary changes occurred millions of years ago. But events in the distant past are not testable and, therefore, cannot ever be proven (or disproven).
What two conditions? A theory explains an observation, it has been tested. There AREN'T examples of macroevolution? Ever heard of ring species?

When evidence that is no longer available (because it is extremely old) is used to prove a premise, the logical fallacy of chronological snobbery has been employed!
This is why Lenski froze all of his bacterial cultures at every stage.
Evolutionists should recognize their “theory” is neither a scientific fact nor even a theory. This may explain why most resort to convoluted arguments and logical fallacies.

Why isn't it a theory, you haven't put forth any valid argument yet...

Such thinking is best summarized by world-renowned biochemist Dr. Michael Denton: “His [Darwin’s] general theory that all life on earth had originated and evolved by a gradual successive accumulation of fortuitous mutations, is still, as it was in Darwin’s time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us believe” (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis).

Denton is an idiot and presents no valid evidence either, I've read all of his books, they're completely bogus.

Evolution is not a fact; it is not even a scientific theory. As Dr. Denton stated, it is nothing more than a “highly speculative hypothesis.” Again we can ask: How can something so contested, even by those who profess to believe it, be taught in schools as fact?
As I stated earlier, Denton is a dolt.

One of the most basic tenets of evolution is the assumption of “survival of the fittest.” Simply put, it is the concept that nature grants preference to the fittest and most adaptable of a species to produce offspring and therefore survive.

Reproduction of the fittest, survival doesn't matter...close enough, though.

You may have heard this so many times that you have never questioned this seemingly logical statement. Remember, you must approach evolution scientifically, not based on assumption or ingrained presumptions.

I am approaching it scientifically...

Famous polymath author Arthur Koestler addressed this subject well: “Once upon a time, it all looked so simple. Nature rewarded the fit with the carrot of survival and punished the unfit with the stick of extinction. The trouble only started when it came to defining fitness...Thus natural selection looks after the survival and reproduction of the fittest, and the fittest are those which have the highest rate of reproduction...We are caught in a circular argument which completely begs the question of what makes evolution evolve” (Janus: A Summing Up).

Those animals which are better able to survive and produce more offspring pass on more of their DNA to future generations. THIS is what is meant by evolution. You're making a straw man. Stop it.

In other words, the fittest are those who survive; and those who survive are deemed the fittest. This is circular logic! It assumes that just because something survived, it is the fittest.

Straw man....

In science, you cannot base a conclusion on an assumption, especially if you then use the conclusion to prove the original assumption. This would not pass muster in a high school debate class, but has tragically become all too common in evolutionary science.

Unfortunately it isn't evolutionary theory that you are arguing against, it's your straw man.

Survival of the fittest is a loose “tautology,” a way of saying something redundantly. For instance, “survivors survive”; “water is wet”; “matter is material”; and so on. Such statements do not prove anything, because they are nothing more than truisms.

Yea...too bad that's not what it states.

Yet even with such information, evolutionists willingly ignore the facts: “Most evolutionary biologists seem unconcerned about the charge and make only a token effort to explain the tautology away. The remainder…simply concede the fact. For them, natural selection is a tautology which states a heretofore unrecognized relation: The fittest—defined as those who will leave the most offspring—will leave the most offspring” (emphasis ours).

There is no tautology, the tautology is in your straw man...

You're still arguing “What is most unsettling is that some evolutionary biologists have no qualms about proposing tautologies as explanations. One would immediately reject any lexicographer who tried to define a word by the same word, or a thinker who merely restated his proposition, or any other instance of gross redundancy; yet no one seems scandalized that men of science should be satisfied with a major principle which is no more than a tautology” (Gregory Alan Peseley, The Epistemological Status of Natural Selection).

See the last 5 comments of mine...

Some scientists may argue, “We have witnessed natural selection. It happens around the world on a daily basis. It is provable!” They point to natural selection as a means to remove the unfit—not a process that favors the “fittest.” At best, you could call natural selection a “survival of the average.”

...you're still arguing against your straw man... I'll skip to the conclusions....

Even with just two assumptions of evolution detailed, you should already begin to understand how so many scientists illogically view evolution as fact. The scientific theory of evolution has already broken down just by using logic.

You propped up straw men and said you defeated the theory of evolution; all you defeated was your straw man...

We ended Part One with the question of how it could be taught in high schools; we could now ask why it is believed by anyone. There is much, much more to cover as this faulty science is exposed and the house of cards completely topples.

Because of the evidence... What you argue against is NOT the theory of evolution as it is defined, it is a staw man argument which falls apart on its own, please educate yourself.

Read more!

One Letter

from Jared Cormier
to pastorjim@pleaseconvinceme.com
date Fri, Nov 2, 2007 at 8:54 AM
subject Evolution
mailed-by gmail.com

Evolution is NOT about the origins of life, that is abiogenesis. Evolution deals exclusively with life after its origin, whatever that may be. The RNA world hypothesis is probably the best model for abiogenesis thus far, but the jury is still out. So, what EVIDENCE do you have which indicates evolution is not true; if this has not already been addressed by at least one evolutionary biologist (which I doubt), then perhaps your doubts are warranted. I haven't, as yet, seen any evidence which cannot be explained by the Modern Synthesis. If you wish to test this theory scientifically, do so with experimental (published and peer-reviewed) data. Until which time, any conclusion you reach is purely speculation.

Macroevolution is NOT life originating from molecules, it is NOT the origins of life; biologists use the term "macroevolution" to describe the process of speciation from a common ancestor population to two separate species. The problem with this model (I admit, there is one) lies not within the framework but in our definition of "species." This provides disagreement among biologists as to whether two populations are distinct subspecies or species. The argument you have presented on this is a straw-man.

Now let me define faith, and explain why science is inherently not reliant upon faith. Faith can be defined as:
1) "a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny"
2) "
an institution to express belief in a divine power"
"confidence in a person or plan"
4) "loyalty or allegiance to a cause or person,"
Science is not associated with the first as it requires evidence, anything supernatural is outside of the natural world and cannot be tested or measured.
Science is not associated with the second as the purpose of the institution is not to express a belief in divinity of any kind.
Science, as a method and body of knowledge, does not have confidence in anything, it simply is a "follow the evidence" method to derive meaningful explanations.
Science does not have loyalties or allegiances to any cause or person, individuals within the scientific community do form a groups to assist one another, but this is out of either friendship or balanced reciprocity, not for "loyalty or allegiance."

Trying to poke holes in evolutionary theory does nothing to support the false dichotomy which you construct, the "it's either evolution or god" is exactly this. I can imagine a situation in which both of us are wrong, making the dichotomy false. An example of a valid dichotomy which is often used in science is this: "either deoxyribonucleic acid is the mechanism of heredity or it is not." This dichotomy examines ALL possibilities, "a" and "not a." False dichotomies do not address all possibilities thus making any conclusion drawn from them based upon faulty premises. Your argument is as follows: "A or B, not A, so B." In actuality, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J [...] "ZZ9 plural Z alpha" could be true. So even IF evolution is disproven, it does not prove your case.

Note, I said "trying" to poke holes in evolutionary theory; why did I say this? Simply because it has been tried for the better part of a century and every hole has been removed without question once tested. The resulting theory is only more robust from the jabbing. This is how we have arrived at the modern evolutionary synthesis; testing, questioning, and probing into how evolution works.

Jared Cormier

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Is this a joke?

When I first read this, I wasn't sure if it was a joke or an actual couple that believes this crap. A little farther down, I came to realize that it's no joke... I mean, the writer of this crap could use a lesson in web page design and literary writing styles, not to mention understand what he's arguing against. Does anyone actually think this is a bit stupid?

The Theory of Evolution is not a scientific law or a law of biology. A scientific law must be 100% correct. Failure to meet only one challenge proves the law is wrong.
Of course the theory of evolution is not a scientific law, it's a theory! Evolution is not a law for several reasons, namely that it is still being refined to include other ways by which organisms change over time; these mechanisms include not only selection, but also genetic drift and gene flow.

Also, not having sources doesn't help to back up his stories, it's kind of like that quote Ray Comfort attributed to Plato. As someone who has read Plato, I really don't remember reading that. Similarly, saying something is not the same as providing evidence of it. I would really like to know where these people are from so I can find out if they really do believe this. It saddens me to see people so coated in their dogmas that they, through no fault of their own, cannot grasp modern scientific advances. It is as though we are sharing the planet with people from the Dark Ages, not the European one, the ancient Greek one. I wonder if these people understand how a computer works, or if they just think "god does that" too. I wonder if they think Lenski's research is somehow flawed, or "god did that" too. I wonder if they think dinosaurs walked with Adam and Eve or "god put those fossils there to test our faith." Enough of this, I've got things to do.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pascal's Wager?

I thought we were beyond this one.
It is essentially a verbose version of Pacal's Wager. He tops it off with it's somehow intellectual suicide. I still don't follow that logic.

Anyway, here are the reasons he says it's bad:
1. Creation. There cannot be a creation without a Creator. He deals with that by believing that there is no “creation.”
Wow, I couldn't explain this better myself.
2. There is the God-given conscience. He believes that the conscience (“with” “knowledge”) is not God-given, it is purely social.
Not exactly purely social, it has a few genetic components like empathy and curiosity, but ok, it's mostly social. Just for the sake of argument
3. There’s the unchanging testimony of Holy Scripture, which must be fulfilled. He believes it is merely the word of man, and not the Word of God.
The bible doesn't change? Question: is there something in it that couldn't have been written by a person? Answer: no.
4. There’s the true and faithful testimony of the genuine Christian. He believes that all Christians are deceived, and he has the truth.
No, it's not that Christians are deceived, it's another little social function called a collective delusion. How do you know this is true? Did your god tell you? I personally think if "god" talks to someone, he or she should be treated for schizophrenia, but that's just my opinion.
5. There is the witness of Jesus Christ--the True and Faithful witness, before whom every knee shall bow. The atheist believes Jesus was a liar, or that he didn’t exist.

Wait, was "Jesus" a witness, or god? How can a god witness himself? Can I act as a witness for something I've done? That would be a neat trick, you know, testify that I saw myself, in fact, not do something. And no, if there was a Jesus (probably not, but if their was) whom the biblical stories are based upon, then the original character is so lost in the oral tradition of the story, we may never know the truth.
[6] And the final bullet is the fact that the Spirit of Almighty God watches every thought and every deed, and will bring every work into Judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or evil.
But wait, you haven't put a number, I'll put one for you. Cool, neat trick, I bet the NSA wants to learn how to do that. Seriously, though, the only thing you demonstrate here is that things are bad for me if you're right. I couldn't agree more with this. The only problem here is that so much evidence points away from that. Your book is filled with things we are CERTAIN to be false. At the very least, that makes any citation of it questionable in accuracy. I digress to the topic at hand. This deity watches over me? How do you know? The bible again? Does everything you know comes from that book? That explains why you know so little. Here's his closing:
What makes the stakes higher, is that the “gun” has a hair-trigger that can go off at any moment. Death can end the game in a heart-beat. So, be a sensible person, put the gun down. Be reasonable. Give up the battle. You are going to lose. Think about your eternity.
But you haven't proven anything with a Pascal's Wager, and you want me to be sensible? Be reasonable? I AM! I don't think you understand that your reasons for belief are so vacuous, it reads like most post-modern literature. Yes, I might die at any moment, the fact that none of your statements give me pause should make you think a little, maybe just for a fraction of a second. I know you don't do that well, Mr. Comfort, but please, if you're going to make claims, at least be prepared to give GOOD reasons. Perhaps you should demonstrate evidence for there being an eternity. Perhaps you should present evidence for there being a deity. Perhaps you should present evidence for there being a creation rather than cosmological explanations for the universe and biological answers for life. Perhaps, sir, you should really understand the arguments against your side BEFORE trying to argue your side.

I certainly think those "bullets" in your "gun" are blanks, just like the bullets of your argument.

I'm going to move on to fun topics later today, like breaking news.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Mr. Comfort: Part Deux

In what is said to be the oldest book of the Bible, God Himself speaks and talks about an amazing and massive creature. Look closely at this portion of Scripture from Job 40:15-24, and visualize the creature being described:

Job is the oldest book of the bible, ok, who cares, it isn't the oldest record we have, you'd think with as many dinosaur fossils as we have, there would be, you know, other sources? But for fun, I'll continue with this charade.

Some commentators have in the past believed that the behemoth is a reference to a hippopotamus. With due respect, that is ridiculous. This creature moves his tail "like a cedar." A hippopotamus doesn’t have a tail that is like a large tree (see verse 17). It’s more like a small twig.

Except that it wasn't talking about a tail as I previously stated, I'll get more to devending my perspective when he attacks it later.

What Did Dinosaurs Eat? "Although some fans of carnivorous 'Tyrannosaurs rex' and 'Velociraptor' may find it a bit disappointing — the vast majority of dinosaurs were plant-eaters. Most plant-eating dinosaurs had peg-like or broad, flat teeth designed for snipping or stripping vegetation." www2.scholastic.com/

Dinosaurs ate lots of things, but the herbivorous ones ate ferns, cycads, club mosses, horsetails, etc. They didn't only eat grass, in fact, it is possible that only younger dinosaurs ate grasses because they were easier to digest, but harder to reach. Now for some facts, most dinosaurs did not have broad, flat teeth, they had spoon-shaped teeth for the most part. NONE had flat teeth, in fact, no animal has flat teeth, the closest you can get are elephant teeth, which are not flat at all. Also, citing a children's teaching site is kind of inept and not likely to be very accurate when discussing scientific concepts. It is good if you want to explain to a nine-year-old how an animal ate, but not to reference as a means of determining diet.

Moving on.
Study the structure of the dinosaur and you will see that its strength is in its huge leg and hip muscles (its loins).
Really? I really thought that was only in the bipedal ones, because looking at the ceratopsians, they seem to have a VERY heavy forlimb structure, titanosaurs have their necks as the heaviest part of their body. What have we learned about this animal? It has huge legs and hips (which are the heaviest part of it's body, and it eats grass like an ox. Ok, let's continue.
A cedar is a massive tree. Skeptics, in an effort to discredit Scripture, have maintained that this is not a reference to an actual tail. However, the Hebrew word translated "tail" is (zanab -- Strong's 02180). In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) the Greek word used here is (ouran). This is the Greek word for "tail."
YAY, my favorite part, what he seems to forget is that the primary reason for interpreting it as "penis" rather than "tail" is the reference to "stones" which is actually "testicles" in the Latin. So, you decide, is a reference to a "tail" and "testicles" pretty close enough to a "penis and testicles" for you? If not, I'll point out that dinosaurs didn't have dangling testicles, they were inside the body cavity like modern reptiles and birds. As such, "testicles" wouldn't be mentioned in a description of a dinosaur.

"The word 'armor' is used to describe the hard, bony shell that some dinosaurs were covered with, rather like a crocodile's scaly skin or a tortoise's shell. Some of the best-protected dinosaurs were the plant-eating (herbivorous) ankylosauruses. A paleontologist called Torsten Scheyer from the University of Bonn has been looking at ankylosaurus fossils under a very strong microscope. He's been able to work out exactly how the armor was made and how strong it would have been. Torsten found that one type of ankylosaurus amour was made in exactly the same way as the materials for bullet-proof vests are made nowadays." www.show.me.uk/site/news
Wait, so now he's saying that bony scales that are sewn together are like a dinosaur's skin? Ok, so it's an Ankylosaurus now, which means it's NOT the biggest animal. The biggest animal doesn't fit the description, so he's picking which ones fit what parts of the description. Mr. Comfort doesn't put the entire description together because it completely excludes ALL dinosaurs. I'll explain why later.

But next, he says:
This is the largest creature that God made: "The biggest dinosaur is probably ultrasauros. We only have a few bones of this late Jurassic [dated by evolutionists at 140 million years ago] plant-eater from Colorado but they show an animal that was six stories high and may have weighed more than 50 tons." www2.scholastic.com/
Sorry, "ultrasaurus" didn't reach 50 tons, "supersaurus" only reached 40, no, the largest dinosaur was Amphicoelia fragillimus, but I wouldn't expect scholastic.com to have that information. I'd also like to take this time to note that Ultrasaurus wasn't 140 million years ago, but 110 million at the latest. More incorrect statements...

"Although this mass extinction didn't happen literally overnight, in evolutionary terms, it may as well have--within a few thousand years of whatever catastrophe caused their demise, the dinosaurs had been wiped off the face of the earth." http://dinosaurs.about.com/
It is no mystery as to why the dinosaur disappeared. The dinosaur’s Creator made his sword to approach him.
Why? Did they do something to piss this "god" off? How did they offend this deity?

20-23 "Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lies under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinks up a river, and hastens not: he trusts that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth."
I know he doesn't talk about this part, but I will, because it is important to point out WHY he doesn't talk about it.
1) the largest animal ever to walk the Earth, but yet it can lie under a tree, in reeds, and be covered? He can put lots of water in his mouth? I'm sorry, so the largest animal also has the largest oral capacity? What about blue whales? I'm sorry, but I must also point out that even a hippo's skull is longer than most sauropod skulls.
2) The largest sauropods would definitely have trouble laying under shady trees.
3) It most certainly wouldn't get any kind of secrecy from reeds!.

I'll move along now

This, the biggest creator God even made, was so tall its nose broke through tree branches: "Although paleontologists claim to have found bigger dinosaurs, Argentinosaurus is the biggest sauropod (four-footed herbivorous dinosaur) whose size is backed up by convincing evidence. This plant-muncher (named after Argentina, where its remains were found) measured about 120 feet from head to tail and weighed over 100 tons." http://dinosaurs.about.com/
When you're wrong, you're wrong, Argentinosaurus still wasn't the biggest, but what ever happened to this being Ankylosaurus? We've moved quite some way from a 20 ft animal to a 120 ft animal. That's a six fold increase in length! I mean, talk about picking your evidence. Is this describing one animal, or several? And if it's describing several, couldn't it be describing several animals that scientists agree were around at the time?

Don’t believe all the absurdity about bats not being birds, other untruths such as the Bible saying that the world is flat, and the mockery of Israel’s judicial system. Every one of these many weak arguments have rational explanations to those who are prepared to soften their hearts and listen. There is too much at stake for the skeptic to embrace small-minded arguments, as though they were the gospel truth.

So, bats are birds? The bible doesn't say the world is flat? What about in Ezekiel 7:2? What about in Luke 4:5? Job 38:12-13 also says that the Earth has edges. And now he wants to talk about RATIONAL explanations? I also protest statements about the "gospel truth" because the gospels, in all likelihood, have many false statements in them. Oh, and the bible does call bats birds in Deuteronomy 14:11-18 when talking about the "unclean birds" you can't eat. What Mr. Comfort is saying is to ignore the TRUTH about what his book says and embrace his wishful interpretation of what it says.
The Bible proves itself to be the Word of God, not just because of its scientific, prophetic and historically accurate facts, but because it points to Him who is both knowable and who grants everlasting life to all who trust in the Savior. It is the fact that God manifests Himself (see John 14:21) to all who call upon His name that is the ultimate proof the truth of His Word.
Now this is my favorite paragraph of them all, here's the SCIENCE in the bible. I'm warning you, it's some pretty convincing stuff. Mr. Comfort, having pi to the two millionth digit in the bible would be convincing, describing the genetic code would be interesting, explaining the cosmological constant would be really cool, but a book which describes the mustard seed as the smallest on the planet and pi as being equal to three doesn't strike me as the most scientifically sound book on Earth, not to mention one written by an all-knowing creator god. And how is a name proof of truth or existence? It's just proof of a name, nothing more.

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